Friday, September 9, 2016

Episode 269: Diamond David Lee Roth

Episode 269: Diamond David Lee Roth
Pat is joined by Van Halen/David Lee Roth super fan Rob Mills (SVP, Alternative Series, Specials & Late-Night Programming at ABC) to discuss all things DLR.
From September 8, 2016

With your host:

Pat Francis

00:00:00 Pat and Kyle welcome us to the show. We've got a big wig in the co-host's chair. He's the Senior Vice President of Alternative Series and Specials and Late Night at ABC, Mr. Rob Mills! So he works on The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Greatest Hits, all the game shows, Jimmy Kimmel Live, the Oscars. That's his gig. Pat worked with Rob on Greatest Hits and Pat was struck by how un-executive-like Rob is. Fist pumping to the music, maybe a little head banging. So Rob is here to discuss the career of David Lee Roth, both his Van Halen and solo work. Growing up Rob was a big fan of Van Halen and Pink Floyd, often switching back and forth betwixt the two.
00:05:00 What is it about David Lee Roth? "For a ten year old boy, he's everything you want to be," answers Rob. He's fun, he's entertaining, he's got the girls, he's got the fame. Rob has had the pleasure of meeting DLR on a number of occasions. "He talks in sound bytes," as Rob describes. He has seen the relaxed Dave on occasion. The Casual Diamond, if you will. But he's also seen Full Diamond. In one instance, Rob couldn't get a ticket to see the Sammy Hagar/DLR combo tour. Then, in a moment of genius, Rob bold-faced lies and claims to be a radio contest winner, so he got to go onstage and be part of the Cabo Wabo set for Sammy.
00:10:00 When Sammy's portion of the show ended, Rob got to see Dave. He played all classic Van Halen songs. Rumors were swirling about a reunion at the time, but who knows what goes on in the Van Halen camp. Pat and Rob agree that being a VH fan is tough because the band is so dysfunctional. Rob got in with 1984, and then the next year DLR is bye-bye, Hagar is in. The 1996 VMAs, DLR back in the band. Alright, here we go, stage two. Nope. But then DLR comes back AGAIN for the 2007 reunion. It's just a whole big barrel of crazy.
00:15:00 Before we really delve into DLR, we've got another edition of

We've already got one madman lead singer on tap for today, but what's one more, right? Yes, the album is Braver Than We Are by Meat Loaf. All songs written by Jim Steinman. The first song we hear is called "Who Needs the Young". The first track on the album and it's baaaaaaad. "Like a Tim Burton knockoff," describes Rob. The next song we hear is "Loving You's a Dirty Job (But Somebody's Gotta Do It". Meat Loaf's voice is gone. It's GONE. "This is heartbreaking," agree Rob and Pat. Meat Loaf's voice was a gift from the gods and now that gift has been recalled. The gang express their sadness over Meat Loaf's current predicament because they love the Loaf!
00:20:00 More lamenting leads to a third selection, "Skull of Your Country". Oof. Pack it in, Meat Loaf. Pack it in.
Alright, enough of that nonsense. We've got some Diamond Dave to dig into, and we start with Van Halen's self-titled debut. Rob plays "You Really Got Me". Rob describes it as the total package of what classic Van Halen had to offer: David's vocals, the harmonies from Michael Anthony, Eddie's guitar playing, the power of Alex's drums.
00:25:00 The first VH album was pop, rock, metal, it was everything. Rob describes it as lightning in a bottle, and the combination of Eddie and Dave was magic. They needed each other to go to the next level. So many things had to go right. Pat's first song is "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love".
00:30:00 The boys discuss more about the first VH album, including its production and how short it is. 35 minutes, in and out. Cut out the fat and get right to the point. Rob and Pat then discuss some other bands like Guns N' Roses and Heart before playing Rob's second pick from Van Halen I. It's "Feel Your Love Tonight".
00:35:00 Another example of the total package, with the guitar solo and then Dave singing and then the harmonies kick in. Does Rob have a favorite Van Halen album? Growing up, he had a least favorite which was Fair Warning because he didn't appreciate the musicianship back then. He just wanted the party songs. Moving on to an album that did have party songs, Van Halen II, Pat plays "Outta Love Again". Rob follows this with "Dance the Night Away".
00:40:00 31 minutes long and not one wasted minute. It just takes you back to that era. Pat mentions each member of the band coming in one at a time, which Rob attributes to Eddie and Alex's musical genius. This is Pat's favorite Van Halen album. He plays his second song from the album, "Somebody Get Me a Doctor". It's just the four guys: vocals, guitar, bass, and drums. That's what Pat likes about this configuration of a band. Simple, direct.
00:45:00 Rob and Pat also agree that Van Halen is just a fun party band. Nothing dangerous about Van Halen; no talk of devil worship or suicide or goat sacrifice. But even though it's fun, it's not jokey. There's no wink. The music is real. Eddie didn't spend endless hours practicing to be in a joke band. We hear Rob's next song, "Light Up the Sky".
00:50:00 After briefly discussing some more about Van Halen II, the boys move on to Van Halen's third album, Women and Children First. It's the next step for the band and it's an album that tends to be forgotten in the canon of the first six albums. Pat starts it off with "Could This Be Magic?". Super different than anything they've done before, with the acoustic guitars and the bluegrass feels. Rob's first pick is "Everybody Wants Some!!", a song that ISN'T forgettable.
00:55:00 Pat surmises the difference between the first two albums and W&CF is that the latter's songs aren't Top 40 friendly. Rob believes that Eddie can go in some strange directions when he's left alone (see Van Halen III), but Dave is able to pull it all together. Pat's second pick from the album is "Romeo Delight". The songs might not be Top 40, but they kick ass live. They were meant to be played live. Rob's second pick is "In a Simple Rhyme". Songs like that--with Dave's singing and Michael's harmonies--are truly sublime.
01:00:00 The talk leads shortly to the troubles between Michael and Eddie, before going into Fair Warning. The first time Pat saw them on tour. Pat refutes the notion that Dave was never a good singer live because he sounded great. The guys are not big fans of the album cover. This Van Halen was a much different Van Halen, darker and heavier. Rob's first pick exemplifies this, "Mean Street". Holy jumping Jesus, that intro guitar solo.
01:05:00 Dave's vocals really compliment Eddie's playing there. Nothing against Sammy, but he could not have written those lyrics. It's not his type of song. That is a Dave type of song. You can feel like he's lived those lyrics. Pat's first pick off the album is "So This Is Love?". Rob considers Fair Warning an Eddie album--an album with his influences and his intricacies. Rob's second song is ""Dirty Movies"".
01:10:00 Rob remarks how Eddie could make his guitar sound X-rated. He could make his guitar sound like ANYTHING! The incredible thing also is that Ted Templeman has been producing them all this time and it's only been a few years, but the albums don't sound the same. And yet, they all sound like Van Halen. An interesting enigma. Pat's next pick is "Hear About It Later". Van Halen are at the top of the game on this tour, even if the album sales are not up to snuff as prior albums.
01:15:00 In 1982, Van Halen released their version of "(Oh) Pretty Woman" and the studio wanted an album out of it, so they came up with Diver Down. Certainly a weaker effort, mostly made up of covers and instrumentals. Rob starts us off with "(Oh) Pretty Woman". They made a video for the song, which ended up being banned from MTV. Even so, Dave LOVES the music video format, while Eddie HATES it. And this is where the cracks start to emerge.
01:20:00 Pat's first pick is another Kinks cover, "Where Have All the Goods Times Gone!". Rob's next pick is one of the four originals and a shining star on the album. The song is "Little Guitars". True story: I always thought Dave was singing "Etch-a-sketch" instead of "Catch as catch." The song is a real classic Van Halen song. Pat calls "Dancing in the Street" filler, but Rob counters that it is good filler.
01:25:00 "Happy Trails" and "Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)" are also brought up. This seems to Rob like another Dave album. Diver Down sold more albums than Fair Warning and Dave is becoming more a presence in the mainstream. He's becoming more of an idol. Pat wonders why the band didn't go into their back catalogue of demos for the album, a la A Different Kind of Truth.
01:30:00 After the dip with Diver Down, the band comes roaring back with the absolute juggernaut 1984. Big hits, big videos. This was Rob's introduction to Van Halen. He saw the video to "Jump" and was enamored. Pat plays it. Another song where everyone shines. And it's a return to those fun party songs. "No one else can write fun like David Lee Roth," remarks Rob. Rob's first pick is "Panama", a real hard rock song. And another fun song, with a video that makes you want to jump into the TV.
01:35:00 Pat's second song from 1984 is "Top Jimmy". Rob's second pick is the song "I'll Wait". Pat describes it as the closest the band gets to a ballad. Pat saw the band on the 1984 tour as well; there was not a lot of interaction between Dave and Eddie. Rob theorizes that "I'll Wait" is more akin to a Sammy song than a Dave song. Sammy wants the girl, he wants the romance. Dave gets the girl and then discards her for the next one.
01:40:00 On the flip side, "Hot for Teacher" is 110% David Lee Roth, including the video. Eddie looks miserable, but Dave is having the time of his life. And, well, that's it. The next year, the classic Van Halen breaks up. Rob was devastated because he JUST got into them. But before the news got out, Dave releases his first solo release, the EP Crazy from the Heat. All covers. Pat plays DLR's version of "California Girls".
01:45:00 April 1, 1985 is the day when Van Halen officially breaks up. Pat muses about the animosity between Eddie and Michael. It always boils down to writing credits. Shame. The next year, Sammy Hagar joins Van Halen and David releases his first solo album Eat 'Em and Smile. He forms a great band, with Steve Vai on guitar, Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big) on bass, and Gregg Bissonette on drums. Ted Templeman stays on as Dave's producer. Rob plays his first pick, "Yankee Rose".
01:50:00 Again, there's a lot of fun here. Steve Vai making his guitar "talk." The typical Dave acting wild in the music video. The tour was equally big and bombastic. Pat's first pick is called "Shyboy". Rob's second pick is "Elephant Gun". There are also some covers on here, including Pat's next song "Tobacco Road". Which album does Rob prefer, 5150 or Eat 'Em and Smile? 5150 is clearly the more commercial, but Rob prefers the hard rocker EE&S. Song for song, Pat prefers 5150.
01:55:00 Dave releases his second solo album Skyscraper. *sigh* "The beginning of the end for Dave," says Rob. Billy Sheehan leaves. Dave's hair starts to get funky like a monkey, the first of Dave's hirsute dilemmas. Pat plays the big single "Just Like Paradise". Great song and a #3 hit for Dave. Rob's first pick is "Stand Up".
02:00:00 It's an interesting song because Dave didn't want Eddie to play keyboards for "Jump," yet keyboards are all over it. Pat's second pick is the opening track, "Knucklebones". Pat found himself disappointed with Skyscraper. Rob's second pick is the slower, more contemplative "Damn Good". Rob notes that Dave does melancholy real well. One can assume he was singing about his times in Van Halen.
02:05:00 Dave's third album is 1991's A Little Ain't Enough. It's Dave trying to return to the hard rock. Pat saw Dave again on this tour, ironically with Extreme (and his future replacement Gary Cherone). The album was released amidst grunge and Desert Storm, so no one wanted a fun rock and roll DLR album. Rob starts it off with the title track, "A Lil' Ain't Enough". Bob Rock is producing. His new guitarist is a guy named Jason Becker (who sadly got diagnosed with ALS a week after joining the band). Pat and Rob wonder about Dave's emotions. He seems very surface. We know the crazy party guy and that's really it.
02:10:00 Pat's pick from the album is "Hammerhead Shark". Rob's second pick is called "Shoot It". These songs are fun, and Rob thinks these songs could have been on a Wayne's World soundtrack. Dave had really lost his cool factor here that he had in the 80s. It certainly didn't help that Cobain and Staley and Vedder and Cornell were kicking ass. Pat's second pick is "Sensible Shoes". A bluesy song, showing Dave's varied influences.
02:15:00 Pat and Rob agree that the follow up Your Filthy Little Mouth is terrible. They both picked one song, the same song, off it. The song is "She's My Machine". The wheels have fallen off the solo train. 14 songs, almost a full hour of Dave, and he uses a host of studio guys. The guys do not have anything from the last two solo albums, DLR Band and Diamond Dave. The albums just didn't grab them.
In 1996, Dave reunited with Van Halen and recorded two new songs for Best Of - Volume I. Pat plays "Can't Get This Stuff No More". The recording sessions were fraught with tension. Rob describes the reunion as bitter sweet because the classic Van Halen was essentially ripped out from everyone, including Dave. The VMA's incident was the final nail in the coffin... or was it?
02:20:00 Flash forward past the dreadful Van Halen III, past the three new Sammy songs from The Best of Both Worlds, and past the Sammy reunion tour in 2004 (where Eddie was a mess). Pat and Rob recount the times they've seen Van Halen and Dave solo. Rob notes the difference in chemistry between the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge Tour and the Balance Tour.
02:25:00 More discussion on the tumultuous relationship between Sammy and Eddie. Will there be a reunion? Sammy wants to take it easy. Rob doesn't necessarily wants to see that tour. Sammy brings a Jimmy Buffet-vibe that Pat doesn't like. It's that tequila money, it changes you. Anyway, flash forward past all that stuff and 2012 brings us A Different Kind of Truth, the first Dave album in 28 years. Pat and Rob agree that it is a fantastic album. Pat plays "China Town". Even though Van Halen doesn't feel like a team anymore, they pulled this album together.
02:30:00 Pat plays another from the album, "Blood and Fire". Rob loves that song for the same reasons he loves "In a Simple Rhyme." Just like "Outta Space" makes him think about "Light Up the Sky," or "Stay Frosty" gives him feelings of "Ice Cream Man." If this is the last VH album with Dave, they went out on a high note.
This was an absolute blast. Rob knows his stuff and is funny to boot. You can find him on Twitter @Millsy11374.
02:35:00 Pat and Rob reminisce about their time on Greatest Hits. They got to see these icons right in front of them; they're living the dream! Thanks to Rob for being here on this journey through the wacky and wonderful world of Diamond Dave. Pat takes us out with Dave cantando su espanol con "Yankee Rose" del album Sunrise Salvaje.
Time Song Album Artist Who
00:15:00 Who Needs the Young Braver Than We Are Meat Loaf Pat (New Music Roundup)
00:15:00 Loving You’s a Dirty Job (But Somebody’s Gotta Do It) Braver Than We Are Meat Loaf Pat (New Music Roundup)
00:20:00 Skull of Your Country Braver Than We Are Meat Loaf Pat (New Music Roundup)
00:20:00 You Really Got Me Van Halen Van Halen Rob
00:25:00 Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love Van Halen Van Halen Pat
00:30:00 Feel Your Love Tonight Van Halen Van Halen Rob
00:35:00 Outta Love Again Van Halen II Van Halen Pat
00:35:00 Dance the Night Away Van Halen II Van Halen Rob
00:40:00 Somebody Get Me a Doctor Van Halen II Van Halen Pat
00:45:00 Light Up the Sky Van Halen II Van Halen Rob
00:50:00 Could This Be Magic? Women and Children First Van Halen Pat
00:50:00 Everybody Wants Some!! Women and Children First Van Halen Rob
00:55:00 Romeo Delight Women and Children First Van Halen Pat
00:55:00 In a Simple Rhyme Women and Children First Van Halen Rob
01:00:00 Mean Street Fair Warning Van Halen Rob
01:05:00 So This Is Love? Fair Warning Van Halen Pat
01:05:00 ”Dirty Movies” Fair Warning Van Halen Rob
01:10:00 Hear About It Later Fair Warning Van Halen Pat
01:15:00 (Oh) Pretty Woman Diver Down Van Halen Rob
01:20:00 Where Have All the Good Times Gone! Diver Down Van Halen Pat
01:20:00 Little Guitars Diver Down Van Halen Rob
01:30:00 Jump 1984 Van Halen Pat
01:30:00 Panama 1984 Van Halen Rob
01:35:00 Top Jimmy 1984 Van Halen Pat
01:35:00 I’ll Wait 1984 Van Halen Rob
01:40:00 California Girls Crazy from the Heat David Lee Roth Pat
01:45:00 Yankee Rose Eat ‘Em and Smile David Lee Roth Rob
01:50:00 Shyboy Eat ‘Em and Smile David Lee Roth Pat
01:50:00 Elephant Gun Eat ‘Em and Smile David Lee Roth Rob
01:50:00 Tobacco Road Eat ‘Em and Smile David Lee Roth Pat
01:55:00 Just Like Paradise Skyscraper David Lee Roth Pat
01:55:00 Stand Up Skyscraper David Lee Roth Rob
02:00:00 Knucklebones Skyscraper David Lee Roth Pat
02:00:00 Damn Good Skyscraper David Lee Roth Rob
02:05:00 A Lil’ Ain’t Enough A Little Ain’t Enough David Lee Roth Rob
02:10:00 Hammerhead Shark A Little Ain’t Enough David Lee Roth Pat
02:10:00 Shoot It A Little Ain’t Enough David Lee Roth Rob
02:10:00 Sensible Shoes A Little Ain’t Enough David Lee Roth Pat
02:15:00 She’s My Machine Your Filthy Little Mouth David Lee Roth Pat
02:15:00 Can’t Get This Stuff No More Best Of - Volume I Van Halen Pat
02:25:00 China Town A Different Kind of Truth Van Halen Pat
02:30:00 Blood and Fire A Different Kind of Truth Van Halen Pat
02:35:00 Yankee Rose Sonrisa Salvaje David Lee Roth Pat

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